Today started early. Or rather I didn’t go to bed until late. And I’m not going to lie, I’m toast. Pulling together this post felt like unpicking embroidery with only one tooth. Anyhow. Onwards. So while technically the actual solstice was yesterday at 22:43, there was still folklore to be had. And I went with fire.
Fire is very the done thing when celebrating the Summer Solstice, aka Alban Hefin, aka Litha, as it represents the sun in all its heat and glory. There’s the Burning Wheel, things like barrels or cartwheels torched and then rolled down hills and into water. There are beacons lit on hills and cliff tops. Beach bonfires. Non geographically specific bonfires. Candles. But to tie in with another tradition of burning herbs in the fires, I made my own personal bonfire in miniature by incinerating another incense cone.
This morning was all about timing. My lovely friend David recommended that I should light my Borrowers bonfire at the midpoint between sunset and sunrise, so as to remind the day not to forget us. Which, after a lot of calculation I worked out as being 00:02. Only to have David very gently correct me to 01:02. Maths was never my strong point.
So at 01:00, I trundled out into the night, sat on the wall outside my house and waited for 01:02. The night air was warm and perfectly still, that is until about 5 seconds before time when the wind picked up. Almost as if it knew I was about to light a match. But despite the atmospheric interference, I managed to set the incense alight before setting it on the wall to burn.
In the twenty minutes it took to disintegrate I listened to many things, baby seagulls keening, shouted thank yous between neighbour and food delivery driver, the faint hum of traffic, the hitching screech of trains, drunken conversations. I counted how many lights were still on in my street. I prodded the incense until it became a gaping hole. Blew on it, taking care that the wind didn’t also blow my hair onto it. Glad I did it outside, many gouts of strong smelling smoke wafting. Began lighting matches to add to the fire and made reflections and resolutions on each strike. Was very pleased when I could go back inside and clamber into bed.
Sometimes I wish this blog was scratch and sniff as this morning the ashes inexplicably smelled of bacon. I sifted out the least burnt bits and put the remainder in the matchbox along with the previous incense ashes. David has also sent me instructions on how to make fairy dust out of what’s left. So if anyone reading this has a child about to lose their first tooth, do let me know.
The beans are positively gung-ho with my first crop now in evidence. Nothing yet on the foxgloves, but the botanicals are doing well. So well, they might become garnish very shortly.
And no, I didn’t back get up again to watch the dawn break over Stonehenge via YouTube. But here it is if you missed it too:
And if you’re feeling so inclined, please scroll down to share this post and then subscribe to the blog. Just as the year has reached its zenith, I’ve nearly completed six months of daily folklore documenting the ritual year. I maybe toast today, but I’m still game on for tomorrow.
Happy Father’s Day!
Forest, D. (2016) The Magical Year, Seasonal Celebrations To Honour Nature’s Ever-Turning Wheel, London, Watkins